Find your happy

In her latest column about The Mill community centre, Helen Bigham explores some new ideas for feeling festive

The 'Get Crafty' group at The Mill (Credit Kamila Michalak)

The ‘Get Crafty’ group at The Mill (Credit Kamila Michalak)

I’m approaching the festive season in a new way, breaking with tradition. Instead of hosting I’ll be a guest.

To remember my late father we’ll have crackers with his favourite cheese. We don’t all like his choice in cheese but it’s a way for us to include him. I can recommend introducing a family custom; it’s a comforting way to acknowledge someone who’s no longer there but is not forgotten.

This time of year can be expensive. I set a budget and attempt to stick with it, but not always successfully. The Mill has a lovely line in mugs and a range of knitted goods, from soft toys to snoods, although this year I’m planning on making some homemade gifts. I can get advice from our resident ‘Sociable Sewers’, ‘Mill Knitters’, ‘Mill Bakers’, or from ‘Get Crafty’, a new group that plans to share different creative skills while doing a lot of chatting. It’s an upbeat way to spend a Thursday morning!

Another way to capture a good feeling is by giving to others. Charities are always calling out for help at this time of year. Opportunites are unlimited, from helping at a soup kitchen to driving the elderly. The Mill welcomes new volunteers, but if you want to know about other opportunities I suggest contacting Community Waltham Forest, which can point you to numerous local voluntary groups.

Spending time with positive people who lift my spirits, I’m always hopeful that perhaps some of their good mood will rub off on me. Pop into The Mill and there’s always something happening, even if it’s just having a cup of tea and a browse in our ‘Honesty Library’. Why not join us at our Christmas event on Saturday 9th December? Throughout the month we’re hosting the Winter Wonderland art exhibition produced by students from Whitefield School. This will certainly bring a smile to anyone’s face on a grey day!

Although it’s cold outside, I don’t plan to stay indoors. I’m going to try and get out and about and exercise regularly; it can help clear my mind. Maybe I’ll join The Mill’s monthly cycling group, or have a bracing walk at the newly opened Walthamstow Wetlands (one entrance is at the end of Coppermill Lane).

Whatever I’m doing, I plan to live by writer Anton Chekhov’s wise words: “People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.”

This is the perfect time of year to discover what makes us content.

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